What Is An Imposter Scam?

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Everybody has heard of identity theft by now.

what is an imposter scamIdentity theft occurs when some scammer gets a hold of your Social Security number and/or your banking information and then runs amuck with it gleefully creating massive amounts of debt in your name and ruining your credit among other things.

However, what is an imposter scam? Should you be concerned?

Definitely. For the very first time, imposter scams have outdone identity theft with regard to the sheer amount of complaints reported by consumers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

What Is An Imposter Scam?

An imposter scam occurs when a scammer approaches you by phone, email or even in person pretending to be a person of trust such as a computer technician or a government official ie. the IRS and persuades you into giving them money.

Phony IRS Agent

One of the most popular imposter scams involves the IRS and runs something like this.  A stranger calls, sounding quite official, claiming to be an IRS agent and says,

“I’m calling to officially inform you that we have conducted an audit and you owe money to the government.  You need to wire the money owing immediately in order for you to avoid legal proceedings that can lead to imprisonment or deportation.  Sir (or ma’am) this is extremely serious.”

SCAM!  The government NEVER requires you to wire money.  Tell the scammer to bug off and hang up the phone.

Check out this video:



Bogus Computer Technician

Another popular imposter scam is the bogus computer technician.  Similar to the IRS imposter scam, the scammer calls you claiming that their company has been monitoring your computer i.p. address and are notifying you that they have detected a new virus circulating the internet on your computer.  They then go on to say that you need to buy their software or security patch “right away” or you’ll lose everything stored on your computer or, even worse, your computer will be damaged beyond repair.  “We just want to help you bypass any problems.”  Yeah, right.

Check out this video:



Here’s A Few Stats

what is an imposter scamAccording to the FTC, whose job is to keep consumers safe, it received over 3 million complaints from consumers last year according to its 2016 Data Book

Here are a few interesting facts they gathered:

  • The most popular complaint regarded debt collectors.  As a matter of fact, over a quarter of the total complaints received were about debt collectors.
  • Never before has imposter scams outdone identity theft as the second most popular category.  Identity theft complaints dropped almost 20%, perhaps because authorities have made an effort to warn the public to guard their personal information.
  • Imposter scams were the most popular complaint by military personnel.
  • Over 75% of fraud victims indicated that they were contacted not through email but rather by phone.  This is significantly higher than just a few years ago.
  • Georgia, Florida and Michigan were worst among the states for not only fraud but many diverse complaints, while Delaware and Michigan were the worst for complaints regarding identity theft.

How To Protect Yourself

Luckily, the FTC has a few tips to keep us safe.

  • Be wary of callers requesting a wire transfer.  Remember, the government will never ask you to wire money.  As a matter of fact, telemarketers are not supposed to ask you to pay for anything by wire.  It’s illegal.  Try to picture wiring money as the same as mailing cash.  Once you’ve sent it, it’s gone.  You can never get it back.
  • If you receive a suspicious phone call from the government, investigate it.  Call up the government agency using its official phone number that you know is legit not the number given to you by the dubious caller.
  • Imposters (scammers) want you to take action immediately.  That is a sure sign of fraud.  What’s the hurry?  It’s because they are trying to dupe you into sending them money prior to you realizing who they really are.  Don’t give in to pressure.

The Bottom Line

what is an imposter scamTrust your gut.  If it doesn’t feel right, hang up and check out their story.  There’s no rush.

So, I hope I’ve answered the question, “What Is An Imposter Scam?”  Have you ever been a victim of this type of scam?  I’d lover to hear what happened.  Please leave your comments below.


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  1. Amir Setoudegan

    Hi, first, I want to thank you for your post. These scams are one of the biggest problems in the online world.  It’s hard to trust anybody these days.

    I recently received an email that told me I won a big money prize and they asked me to send them my personal information plus my credit card number. Should I trust them?

    • Barb

      Nooooooooo!  Definintely, not!  I’m 100% sure it’s a scam.  I know it’s tempting.  Who wouldn’t want a huge cash prize?  Don’t give out any information until you do your research and no for sure it’s legit.

  2. Gedas

    Hello, I want to share my personal story I wish it would not have happened but it is. It happened a few years ago for my grandparents they get a phone call from a man who was pretended to be a police officer. He said that her granddaughter did a car accident and she needs 200 Euros in cash, immediately. Of course, my grandmother becomes super scared of the fact that her granddaughter had made a car accident and accepted the request. Couple hours later burglar came at my grandparent’s home and took the money.

    If my grandparents had ever read this post maybe they would not get cheated by the burglar. So this post is very accurate, especially for the elderly people.

    Thank you for creating this!

    • Hi, Gedas! Thank you for dropping by and sharing your story. Not only do I love hearing from my readers, but it helps so many people when stories such as this, although tragic, are shared.

      I’m so sorry that this happened to your grandparents. I can’t even begin to imagine how they must have felt. I hope all is well now. These scammers have no conscience and prey on the most vulnerable. I hope the authorities caught these crooks and put them away for a very long time.

      I’m glad you find this post helpful. My aim is to expose as many scammers as I can to prevent people from becoming a victim.

  3. pmbaluka2016

    Thank you so much for your article which enlightened me about imposter scams. Before I discovered the truth about what their offers really were, I found myself being tempted by what these thugs had to offer. I received many emails and calls tempting me to wire money so that I could trade via binary options, but my gut wouldn’t allow me to do that.

    Many of my friends have been conned and this made me very cautious. I think the solution to this problem is to do your due diligence. Research is the key when it comes to getting down to the truth. 

    Thanks for the wonderful post. Best wishes,


    • Barb

      Thanks, Paul, for dropping by and sharing your experience with imposter scams.  I love hearing from my readers and, by sharing your story, you help others not to be scammed.

      I agree.  We must always be cautious and research the offers we’re presented with.  It’s good that you went with your gut.  It’s when we go against our gut we find ourselves in trouble.

  4. Capn' Jeff

    I have an issue with this kind of scams all the time. Usually the people calling me want me to go through with the computer stuff. My go to is to simply engage them in personal conversation. I start talking about some mundane task I’m doing or begin to ask personal questions about their family. They usually hang up on me at that point when they realize they aren’t getting anywhere. I had no idea how prevalent they were, pretty crazy.

    • Barb

      Hey, Capn’ Jeff!  Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.  I love to hear from my readers.

      I’m so glad you didn’t become a victim of this type of scam.  That’s so funny how you handled it.  I’ve done the same thing myself.  I’d just keep them on the phone for ages playing along until they finally hang up out of frustration.

      Good for you for not falling for it.

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